This is a prequel to the books of the Old Kingdom series (also known as the Abhorsen Chronicles) of which I am a fan. The events take place some six hundred years prior to the first book of the series.
It follows the titular character as she arrives in the capital, Belisaere. Her mother is an important figure in the Goldsmith’s Guild, and the guilds now run the city in place of a king who refuses to rule until his daughter returns. Not to mention she is linked to both the royal line and the Abhorsens.
As ever, Nix creates a fascinating world that is both detailed and familiar yet fresh and unique. The characters are nicely drawn, even if some are a touch cliche, which could also be said of the plot, but relying on a familiar core seems to ground the events and the more fantastical elements.
As the protagonist spends most of the book being kept in the dark, so do we as readers, which I found as frustrating as Clariel. She’s also a character, perhaps because she’s a teenager, who is prone to self-centred moaning, not all of it without reason, but it drags at times.
The book is read by Graeme Malcolm, who does a good job, bringing clarity and enough twisting of voice to imbue the characters with their own personality.
So nothing particularly groundbreaking, but an entertaining tale nonetheless that takes place in a delicious landscape. It’s a realm I would be happy to slide into again.